WCLA, AFD successfully plan development of Lahore Fort buffer zone


320 shops, including Rim Market, encroachments around Mariam Zamani Mosque, to be cleared

–Mosque to be linked with fort; hotel, cafes, souvenir shops to be established as well

LAHORE: After holding several meetings and study sessions within the past few months, Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) and French Development Agency – Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – have successfully planned the development of a buffer zone around the Lahore Fort along with the removal of 320 shops, including Rim Market and encroachments around the Mariam Zamani Mosque, opposite the fort’s Akbari Gate, Pakistan Today has learnt.

As per the details, all necessary surveys and resettlement plans for the encroachments have also been devised and the traders of the area have also been taken on board. Further, international agencies are also playing their part in the documentation and planning of the project.

Sources informed Pakistan Today that the area around the Lahore Fort, especially opposite the Akbari Gate, was heavily encroached by traders of the Rim Market and Moti Market (shoe market), which was damaging the beauty of the fort as well as hiding the historic Mariam Zamani Mosque.

They added that plans were made in the past to remove or relocate the Rim Market, which was an eyesore, but could not be implemented due to pressure by influential traders. Sources were of the view that both the priced monuments, Lahore Fort and Mariam Zamani Mosque, were suffering because of these encroachments and could not be developed into proper tourist spots.

WCLA Media and Marketing Deputy Director Tania Qureshi, while speaking to Pakistan Today, said that the Mariam Zamani Mosque was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his mother and was known as the “Mother of all Mosques”.

“It was once connected to the fort with a garden in between and was meant for women who lived in the fort. With the British invasion development of the Circular Road, this part got separated from the fort and encroachments started settling eventually,” she said.

WCLA Social Mobilisation Deputy Director Nosheen Zaidi said that the project with AFD had two phases, the first phase included the removal of commercial markets and the second phase would deal with the rehabilitation of the Mariam Zamani Mosque. “The shops are built on government land and all are encroachments but WCLA would still be paying traders market-based compensations.”

WCLA Marketing and Social Mobilisation Director Asif Zaheer told Pakistan Today that AFD consultants had been working with a team of the WCLA on the project and Agha Khan Trust for Culture had also been engaged as technical partners.

“The development of Ali Park will also be taken up in this project. The planning phase, with all necessary documentation and surveys, has been completed and now we will be preparing the PC-1 for the approval by the government. Once the project is initiated and the encroachments and markets are removed, we will be developing a park to connect the Mariam Zamani Mosque with Lahore Fort,” he said, adding that a hotel for tourists, cafes, souvenir shops, underground parking and other facilities will also be established.